Our definition of community development is tremendously wide. It includes intentional actions to improve social and economic well-being, the sustainability of our communities in their current geographic and economic configuration, and everything that impacts the durability and adaptability of our housing stock.
That's a lot to comprehend. Some days we wish community development was less of an art and more of a science, with defined inputs leading to predictable outcomes.
The subjects are so interwoven that our graphic above shows overlapping sub-sets of the community development idea. We second-guess our own diagram every five seconds, because we see a different way that the threads of community improvement are interrelated when we focus a different real-life example.
But we decided that inspiring you to criticize and wonder is part of the charm of this particular diagram.
Thinking through how to make your geographic place better often causes even the most seasoned professionals look at one another and say, "I don't know." The topics in this section, complementing our definition of community development, are shown below. This article resumes after the grid. If you look at these topics and can't decide which to select, try the site search box in the left column, or at the bottom of the page if you are using mobile.
In the U.S. a federal program has influenced the definition of community development too much. Since 1964, the term community development has become almost synonymous with the Community Development Block Grant.
Since that program requires that the benefits accrue to people of low and moderate income, an undeserved stigma has been attached to the phrase community development.
It is usually a good program and one I have managed, but community improvement is necessary and gratifying across the entire economic spectrum.
International community development has yet another meaning, focused on eradication of extreme poverty and then having the infrastructure and organizing a society that can communicate, sell, and buy globally.
In the world-wide context, the definition of community development tends to be entangled with trying to imitate Western-style development.
However, retracing the mistakes of the "developed" world is not necessarily the best way to move forward. World-wide, humanity can avoid the mistakes that now threaten environmental sustainability, economic stability, and development of a middle class because of a concentration of wealth.
We propose that the definition of community development in a developed country includes anything that:
It's a challenging agenda. So you can see that it takes people of all income levels, including low, moderate, and lavish.
It is important to understand community development principles, as explained in an illustrated essay based on three in-depth example communities. If our recent economic problems teach us anything, it should be that no system is immune to the laws of cause and effect.
Then we can reclaim the complexity and richness of the phrase.
Lastly, a visitor to the site asked about the purpose of community development. Our best try at answering the why question is on the page in the link.